Posts filed under ‘Paris’

Paris – Bloody Marys and Butter Pie

“BIG” IN MILAN!!!: Joanne from Frutto della Passione and I are organizing a Sex and the City shindig in Milan. We’d love to meet up with fellow bloggers in the area to see the new SATC movie and have drinks before, during and after. Saturday June 7 is the date. More details to follow. Just leave a comment on either of our sites to let us know if you’re coming. Carrie and the girls need your support!!

 

Ciao Bloggisti!

I know I’ve been away a while but I’ve been soooo busy at work and at home that I just didn’t have the time to post. But I promise I will make it up to you… starting with this.

Soothing, non? Wouldn’t it be nice to wake up to that every morning? Or even after a nap? Speaking of naps, I didn’t have to resort to torturing poor Mimmo with Yoko’s dulcet tones to get him up. I just whispered in his ear that I was going shopping on the Avenue Montaigne with his credit card. Worked like a charm. Never seen a man jump out of bed so fast.

I thought it would be nice to have an apéritif before our dinner at Chez Michel so we went to the Canal St. Martin area in the hopes of finding a nice bar. I’d also never been to the area and was curious to see it.

We got out at Jacques Bonsergent station and walked down the Rue de Lancry to get to the canal. It’s a nice little neighbourhood and I enjoyed the walk, taking snapshots of the buildings and colourful doors.

We stopped in front of the Verre Volé wine bar, which I had heard good things about, but Mimmo didn’t like the looks of it for some reason. So we walked down the Quai de Valmy where I noticed some very cute looking shops, which were all closed because of the May 1 holiday. Arrgh! But I made a mental note to myself to head back there.

We finally ended up having our apéritif at Café Atmosphère on 49 Rue Lucien-Sampaix. Living up to its name, it had a very good vibe – quirky and casual, with a mixed clientele of students, seniors, artsy types and professionals. The staff were very friendly too. (See, more nice French people!)

Mimmo had a beer and for some reason I felt like having a Bloody Mary. Big mistake! It was the worst BM ever – 25% tomato juice, 75% vodka. I’m Canadian and can handle my drink but I almost did a spit-take. Blech! Hey, it would have made a great disinfectant. Thankfully, Mimmo switched drinks with me. Still, I’d go back to Atmosphère, maybe for lunch or dinner. Definitely not for the drinks.

From there we walked all the way to Chez Michel, which is close to the Gare du Nord train station. Not the safest of areas at night. Good thing Mimmo is a big strapping Viking of a man.

The restaurant was super-mega packed and full of tourists, mostly American and German. We were a bit suspicious about the lack of locals but once we saw the menu we were relieved. First of all, it was in French. Second, the the specials of the day written on the ardoise (blackboard) looked delish. The only problem was the waitress actually handed us the ardoise before we ordered. It was heavy and uncomfortable. And once we’d decided what we wanted, we didn’t know what to do with it. Should we put it down? Keep holding it so she remembers to come back to us? Hit her on the head with it? We decided to put it down because I was getting a hand cramp.

Chez Michel offers a €30 prix fixe menu, which included a starter, main course and dessert. Mimmo went for the tomato coeur de boeuf salad and I chose the foie gras et crème de pruneaux starter (not on the prix fixe menu). The salad was very fresh and the tomatoes actually tasted like tomatoes, unlike the ones I usually get at the supermarket. I still don’t know how I feel about my foie gras starter though.

Now, I really love foie gras in paté form but here I got actual slices of whole foie gras with course sea salt sprinkled on top. On its own, I wasn’t too crazy about the taste but combined with the prune cream it wasn’t too bad. Perhaps it was just a tad too heavy for me as a starter. Don’t worry, Mimmo helped me out.

I was more than pleased with my main course: une poêlée de St. Jacques (sautéed scallops) with cumin, parmigiano flakes and cooked in a sort of sweet, citrus sauce. Succulent and delightful!

Mimmo had a wonderfully tender and flavourful pot-au-feu, a traditional meat and vegetable stew. Chez Michel’s pot-au-feu had pieces of sausage, veal, pork, bacon, cauliflower, savoy cabbage, onions, carrots and raisins. Yum!

The waitress suggested a 2006 Paul Prieur Sancerre red to accompany our meal, which she thought would go well with both seafood and meat dishes. And it did.

Then when it was time to order dessert, I was intrigued by the name kouign amman so I asked my waitress what it was. “Oh madame, it’s a sort of pie. But I must warn you, it’s full of sugar and butter.” “Butter pie?!? Pas de problème. Bring it on!” A kouign amman is actually a warm butter cake from Brittany, the home region of Chez Michel chef Thierry Breton. The cake was impossibly rich with a lovely caramelized crust. To die for!

Our meal was even more pleasant after we started talking to the couple sitting beside us. Laurent and Stéphanie were perhaps the only French diners in the restaurant and we had fun talking about Italy, babies and food.

After dinner I wanted to go out for one last drink so we went to one of my old stomping grounds, the Bastille area. I was sad to see that the pedestrian Rue de Lappe had got a lot cheesier over the years and didn’t have the nice bars that I remembered. We stopped for a beer at a little hole in the wall but I was so full and exhausted that I couldn’t keep my eyes open.

Taxi!!

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23 May 2008 at 12:02 am 6 comments

Paris – May Day, May Day!

Thursday, May 1

Ah, how nice it is to wake up to the sound of sirens instead of screaming kids. No joke. Despite our late omelette dinner, I was ravenous. We made it just in time for breakfast. Nothing special but the croissants and pain au chocolat were good. I also enjoyed people watching. There was one curious couple, consisting of a homely-looking man in his 40s and a tall Asian woman dressed as if she were on her way to a photo shoot. Sky high, chocolate-coloured platform heels, flouncy back-baring mini-dress, sunglasses. We were in the Breakfast Room at the Holiday Inn Express, for goodness sake! Believe me, Karl Lagerfeld was not about to walk through that door. Anyway, she definitely looked odd, and more so after I got a better look at her. Very masculine features and a voice to match. Hmmm…

After breakfast, Mimmo and I rushed to get to the Musée d’Orsay at a decent hour, hopefully avoiding the hoards of tourists. We decided the RER would be the fastest way to go. We’re both pretty confident at using the Paris Métro and RER systems and easily found our way to the right platform. Or so we thought. When the nice customer service assistant at the Gare d’Austerlitz came up to us and asked if we yokels needed help finding the right train we immediately said “Non!”. Then in a split second of self-doubt I told her we were going to the museum. Thank god I did because the assistant kindly informed us that we were on the wrong platform. Yup, yokels indeed!

We finally made it to the Musée d’Orsay and were thrilled to find that there weren’t too many people around. In fact, there was hardly anyone. My spidey senses started to tingle. Then I realized that the doors and ticket kiosks were closed. Arrrggh!! The museum was fermé for the May 1st holiday! I knew that it was a national holiday but I was sure that in culture-friendly France, they’d keep museums open for tourists. Boy was I wrong! We walked to the nearby Louvre just to check and that was closed too. It was almost heartbreaking to see the people wandering aimlessly around the courtyard, not knowing where to go or what to do. Some tourists sat on nearby benches, hoping that the powers that be would change their minds. They wouldn’t.

So, the hubster and I decided to go for a romantic stroll through the Jardin des Tuileries.

It was so romantic that we ran into Jean-Marie Le Pen and his crew. Well, not really but there was a Front National rally on a street just off the park. Le Pen was blathering about something but I was too bored to listen so we watched a mime perform instead. Well, not really but I’m sure that would have been waaay more interesting.

Now I don’t know if it was a coincidence but right after watching that rally the clouds turned an awful shade of grey. With a storm fast approaching and both museums and shops closed, what were a couple of stranded tourists to do? Well, we headed to the wonderful world of the Bateaux Mouches, the excursion boats that travel along the Seine. Yes, it’s a bit cheesy considering we weren’t first-timers to Paris but the romantic in me always appreciates the sights AND it was a covered boat. Let the storm clouds come!

Mimmo wasn’t as impressed as I was with the tour and fell asleep half-way through. I was sitting beside a yappy dog who tried to eat my hat. After we got off the boat I took some quick snaps of the Alma Tunnel, you know, the one where Princess Diana had her accident. I couldn’t help myself. I was a big Royal Family buff when I was a kid. Anyway, I felt strangely emotional standing there.

The hubster was exhausted after all that excitement and wanted to go back to the hotel for a nap. Nap?!? I was worried. When that man naps you need a choir of Yoko Onos screaming in his ear to get him up again. We had reservations for Chez Michel that evening. Would we ever be able to make it on time?????

Tune in to the next post to find out…….

12 May 2008 at 8:28 pm 7 comments

Paris – Day One

Reverie…

 

I can still see my feet walking down the Rue de Lancry, about to discover the bridges, bars and leafy walkways of the Canal St. Martin. I can still smell that distinctive odour of boiled rice emanating from the labyrinthine Métro corridors. The other smells are best left forgotten. The sound of exuberant schoolchildren playing soccer on a dirt pitch bounces off the remnants of a 12th century fortress bordering the field. Even under ominous storm clouds, the Seine is magnificent, proudly reflecting the city’s glory in its leaden waters.

 

 

Sorry for that unbearably poetic rant. Feel free to vomit now. But I just can’t help it. Every single time I visit, Paris does something to me. It turns this sarcastic bitter old broad into a mushy pâté. I’m feeling more than a little nostalgic this week. I had a wonderful weekend and while my body is back home, my spirit is still wandering around the arrondissments. Ok, now I sound like a freaky French ghost. What I meant to say was that my on-again off-again love affair with the City of Light is back on with a vengeance. Oh oui!!

 

But let’s start with the facts:

We arrived late Wednesday night at Charles De Gaulle airport and when we finally managed to get a train ticket (not easy if you don’t have a French credit card), we took the RER down to the city. It may not be glam but it is by far the fastest and cheapest way to get to Paris from the airport.  By the time we dragged our sorry suitcases and selves to our hotel in Place d’Italie, it was past midnight. But I didn’t want to miss one minute of eating Parisian food so I forced my exhausted hubster to take me to the nearest café (a place called O’ Jules). Despite the late hour, there were quite a few people having dinner, including a table full of boisterous Spaniards. Mimmo and I both had omelettes: mine with potatoes, his with ham and cheese.  Not the best I’ve ever had but more than satisfying after our tiring journey. And get this, our waiter was actually pleasant to us. He even smiled once in a while. Un miracle

So with our stomachs full, we made our way back to the hotel, dodging the occasional stream of pee or pan-handling drunk. One of them wanted to get a lift in a taxi and was flatly refused. Monsieur le Drunk couldn’t understand why: “Mais pourquoi tu ne me veux pas? Pourquoi!?!”  Despite those episodes, I was so happy to be back in Paris. I went to bed with visions of tiny sugar plum Sarkozys and Carla Brunis dancing in my head.

8 May 2008 at 5:20 pm 4 comments

Paris, tu me manques

Salut bloggisti!

 

Got back the other day from our long weekend in Paris. Except for a few minor hitches, It was soooo nice! The sights, the food, the smell of rancid clochard pee in the Metro.  Sigh! It’s hard to come back to reality. I’m snowed under with work, kids stuff, dirty dishes and laundry so I don’t have much time to blog today. Sorry! But I have lots to tell you about the trip. We went to some pretty amazing restaurants (and one unexpected favourite), ran into some quirky characters, visited my old haunts and discovered new neighbourhoods. And get this, we even met NICE French people. Oh mon dieu! 

 

courtesy of www.freefoto.com 

 

But keep checking the blog for new Paris posts and pictures. So much to tell, so little time. And I promise, I will tell. And of course there will be restaurant reviews. To whet your appetite, my good friends Brenda and Donna have kindly accepted to share their thoughts on a Parisian restaurant they tried recently. Bon appétit!

 

 

6 May 2008 at 5:20 pm 7 comments

Salut de Paris!

Bonjour Bloggisti!

Tout va bien? I’m in Paris right now so today is a French-themed Disco 2000.

First off, we have the roi of sexy-ugly, Serge Gainsbourg, singing Requiem Pour Un Con. What an amazing beat! He was truly a genius and ahead of his time.

 

Last but not least, here are Duran Duran with the fromage-y View to a Kill. I looooved this video when it first came out. What was I thinking?!?!? Bad acting, bad hair, bad make-up. And that was just Nick Rhodes. Still, there was a je-ne-sais-quoi about the 80s that I just can’t resist.

 

 

Ok, now I’m off to eat a croissant or KFC or something exotic like that.

Bye!!

2 May 2008 at 10:36 am 1 comment

An ode to the city

Last year we moved to a small Northern Italian town surrounded by corn fields and rice paddies. Natural parks and rivers are minutes away. The population is just under 8,000 and everyone seems to know us. Feels like Stars Hollow sometimes. We can walk our kids to school and the cats roam freely around the block. Well, except for poor pudgy Sausage who got stuck in the fence the other day. We had to call the vet and fireman to set her free. It was quite the event in town!

I really do love it here and it’s a great place for my kids to grow up in BUT sometimes I get an itching for concrete and traffic that just overcomes me and I have to rush to Milan to get my fix. I guess you can say I’m a city girl at heart.

I was born in downtown Toronto and spent my first months of life there. Maybe I breathed in too many exhaust fumes back then that did something to my developing baby brain. Whatever it was, I think I’ve always felt an inexplicable connection to big cities. We later moved to the burbs where I spent most of my formative years but every time we would make our annual summer trek to the Ex, the sight of the CN Tower and skyscrapers fascinated me to no end. When I was a teenager, I would skip class just to walk down Yonge Street, “the longest street in the world” or hang out at the Eaton Centre, even if there was a perfectly fine mall nearby. And when I was old enough to travel on my own, I never felt more alive than when I was walking down the streets of Montreal, Mumbai, Paris, Madrid, New York, Rome and Poughkeepsie (ok, I’ve never actually been to Poughkeepsie but a girl can dream, can’t she?).

Some people go to the country to “recharge their batteries”. I go to the city to get my fill of energy. There’s something about the lights, the crowds, the colours, the anonymity, the hustle and bustle that make me feel at one with the universe. Yeah I know, I’m nuts!

In less than a week I’ll be in la ville lumière, Paris. Can’t wait!!! I’ll be posting lots of pictures and stories from there when I get back. Another place I’d love to visit again but won’t for a while is New York. For me, it is THE city par excellence. I love it and keep trying to find ways to get transferred there. For now, I dream and make do with looking at some of the best pictures of NYC I’ve ever seen on Blogjem. Frances’ photos make you feel as if you were really in Times Square or Central Park. And her black and white pics are spectacular.

She’s also the brains behind She Who Blogs, a collection of posts from female bloggers that I am proud to be a part of.

Finally, my ode to the city cannot be complete without a bit of music. Here’s the Jam, featuring the sexy-ugly Paul Weller, with “In the City”:

So, what’s your favourite city?  Where would you live if you had the chance?

24 April 2008 at 2:51 pm 5 comments

Picture it!

Ciao Bloggisti!

Um, I’m having a hard time figuring out how WordPress is working now. They changed things around over the weekend and since I’m a creature of habit, me is confused!

Haven’t had much time to write lately. Sorry! But I’ve been busy recovering from the stomach flu and helping my “third child” (aka Mimmo) cope with his flu. You know how it is when a man gets sick, dontcha? “Oh woe is me!” “No, I’m not going to the doctor! I can deal with the unbearable pain by myself. Don’t you worry about me.” “Mamma!!!”

I just hope everyone will be well by the end of the month. Ya see, the hubby and I are off to Paris for an anniversary celebration, sans kids! Paree is special to us because it’s where we met and fell in love years after that first meeting. In my opinion, it is the most beautiful city in the world. And of course, you can’t beat French hospitality! But seriously, I can’t wait to go back after 12 long years. I long to walk down the streets I wandered as a starving exchange student, drinking in every monument, every moment, with the euphoric feeling that Paris was the city that was going to change my life. And it did.

I am also praying that Alitalia will have gotten over its flu by the end of April because that’s our unfortunate choice of airline. If anything goes wrong and I don’t get to fulfill my dream of eating in a Parisian Michelin-starred restaurant, somebody in Rome is gonna get a hurt real bad! Btw, any resto suggestions pour moi?

Ok, my cat Sausage is about to shred my brand-new curtains so I’d better be quick. The whole point of this post is a cute picture meme I “stole” from Erin at Fully Alive Ready To Smile. If you’re interested here’s how it works:
1. Go to http://www.photobucket.com
2. Type in your answer to the question in the “search” box
3. Use only the first page
4. Insert the picture into your Blog

Heeeeere’s my Picture Meme!

1.) What is your relationship status?

2.) What is your current mood?

3.) Who is your favorite band/artist?

4.) What are your favorite movies?

5.) What kind of pet do you have?




6.) Where do you live?


7.) Where do you work?


8.) What do you look like?

9.) What do you drive?

10.) What did you do last night?

11.) What is your favorite TV show?

12.) Describe yourself.

13.) What are you doing today?

14.) What is your favorite candy?


Basta

Buonanotte!!!

9 April 2008 at 12:36 am 1 comment


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